Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Money Saving Monday-Getting the "Good Stuff"

I tend to be a girl with expensive tastes in many areas.  My Vera Bradley purse habit is just one example.  I love, adore these purses and rarely find them used. For the record these guys are washable and have multiple organizing pockets that almost no other purse has!  In truth, at this point I need absolutely no purses. However, I had been considering what the kids call a "wristlet". I no longer use a traditional wallet, and this would be perfect for me. I could leave it in a larger purse with cards and cash, and pull it out to carry on my wrist when walking or doing things down town where I did not want a purse but had too many things for my pockets.  In the next week, I am going to go get the item below.  You see, Vera Bradley mailed me a free coupon in the mail.  Why you may ask-well, because this is my birthday month! 

Bob over at Satisfying Retirement has a post up regarding "small ball" or the little things we do to cut costs or make life more simple.  There are lots of good suggestions from like minded people, most of which I do (although I am still on the cable wagon, by choice).  There are, however,  other things I do, that make life rewarding and get me things I might not otherwise have.  The Vera Bradley coupon is a perfect example-but just the starting point.

As I said before, this is my birthday month, with the day being towards the end of September.  Sitting in my coupon box at this moment are: a thirty dollar gift certificate to Benihana, a free birthday meal from Rockfish, a free meal from Steak and Shake, a free burger meal from Red Robin,  and free body products for both Bath and Body Shop and Victoria's secret.  There are more goodies that I have yet to print out sitting in my email box, and my birthday month is half over. I expect similar goodies from Red Lobster and other places too numerous to mention.

It is certainly doubtful that I will use all of these goodies, although I look forward to stopping at Red Robin tomorrow during my errands. I also received smaller offers such as free appetizers, free books, too many to name.

 This does not just happen on my birth month.  And it is not just "store" items that I collect. Quite often when I mention all the freebies I get and money I save, someone comments that they just don't have that much "free time".  I have a fairly active retirement including multiple hobbies, travel,  two small business and attending college and caring for a house. I would be unhappy spending large amounts of time, but I am willing to spend small amounts of time to free up money for other things and get extras. Bob mentions in his article that his coupon cutting and sales comparison takes less than half an hour a week and the savings are well worth the time. This is my experience.

In the case of my email goodies, I spent a tiny bit of extra time a single time.  I created a Hotmail address, separate from my "real" email. Then, over a period of a week or so (perhaps more) I went to the website of every single place where I shopped, slept, or ate (and the stores that my adult kids used the most). I signed up as an "email subscriber" at each place.  I did these even for the places I have "rewards" from, such as Hilton Honors, as the goodies tend to be different.  The places were as varied as the previously mentioned Hilton and Best Western, Catherine's clothing store, chain restaurants, my local movie theaters, my local quilt store, and Barnes and Noble, and my local independent book store (did I mention I have one of those again?). There are a few grocery type products that we use all the time on the list as well, but that's not the kind of list this is.

Every day as part of my online routine (emails, blogs, the news, and so on) I scan this particular email list in Outlook. It takes me only a few minutes. For those who doubt, my maximum online time on a busy email and blog day tends to be an hour in the morning.  This includes reading the news, my emails and responding, blogs and commenting, checking discounts and deals, going to face book and my online store and web page and more.  I may return to the laptop later on to write a blog or do something else, later.

If there is something worth saving I put it in an email folder (birthday, free items, coupons) and then I delete the rest, quickly.  Admittedly some of the emails I get are "spam", a few of them are sale notices that I might also get in the mail.  Many however, are items that are usable throughout the year.  Home Depot and Lowe's both have special coupons for email subscribers each week that don't appear in the local paper or circulars, just as an example.  JCPenney still gives out their ten dollars off ten dollars or more coupons (which I usually give to my six foot six inch son to put towards extra large socks for his size fourteen feet).  I love Panera bread and each month I get a coupon off a lunch entree. Some months I don't use it but some months I do.  Each month both Barnes and Noble and my independent book store send me a coupon for a free large drink.  Now, I love the library, but I also enjoy perusing book stores and put crafting magazines on my list of "have to haves".  Most months, I grab a discounted magazine and a soft chair and enjoy my free beverage in the middle of my errands.

Also get plenty of "non food" freebies and coupons this way, as well as early offering of gift card deals.  Every year my adult daughter gets a months worth of underwear in her stocking from my free pantie deal each month at Victoria's secret (sorry if this is too much info).  That's just one example, but there are many more. In other words, most of the stuff I get is not "junk", nor miniature.  Every week, my Cinemark movie theater sends me a coupon for a free snack item. Now, I don't go to the movies every week, but I am one of those folks who enjoys the theater experience and feels that some movies need to be seen in the theater.  I eagerly await the Robert Redford movie release for example.  Robert Redford has gotten a standing ovation at every movie festival at which it has been screened.  By using my free coupon and attending at an early show and/or using my senior discount I can generally see a movie and enjoy a munchie for ten dollars. I should add that many of these sites have apps as well, but money saving apps deserve their own blog post, I do believe.

Everyone chooses their own way to save money, and some folks may not choose to be or need to be as intensive as I am. Still, even getting on a few of these lists can save money and give advance of good deals.  I  mean who can turn down a free plant from home depot in June?

All I can say is - it works for me.


  1. I have always used coupons and if not I ask at the places for a cash discount and senior discount they seem to enjoy giving me the discounts..I get lots of things for free for my only child she loves forever 21, gap and Victoria's secret, I signed up for everything and one year I got her about panties free and one nice regular panty from Macy's for free..I get her all her HABA stuff with coupons from glossies and double them and ship them to NYC where she would spend a bundle to pay for them, she works in films and never seems to have much time to get to places and pick Health And Beauty Items. When her birthday rolls around in November I get gift cards for places she adores from our grocery store and we can get gas for the car cheaply and always $10.00 off our groceries..I have used JC Penney's 10 off of 10 for years buy my hubs Jockey t-shirts always on sale and also his St. John's Bay shirts he loves..I am just too cheap to pay regular price for anything, and it works for me, I do best on groceries at Albys they substituted better soups for the soups that were only .99 campbells and I had tons of coupons go 10 of them for only $3.00! We used to live in Aurora, Co. but both worked and no babydoll, had a lovely home, we could not live in Colorful Colorado anymore it takes a bundle to live there even though they have about 300 days of sunshine even when it snows yearly, we live where it is cloudy and raining about 200 days of the year about as mossy as it can get..when the sunshine hits it drives people nuts!!!!!!!!!!Love your blog..ciao from the evergreen state!

    1. It sounds like you have a lot of deals and steals down. I actually am finding Colorado to be significantly more expensive than Texas-granted i do not pay much income tax. My fixed income is going about as far as it was there. The one exception is that my son's tuition is about three times for in state. so far Im glad I movoed but will probably be going to texas in the spring for a vacation.

  2. Happy Birthday, whenever in this month it is(was)!

    1. Not here yet, but thanks so much!!

  3. Love that idea of a new separate email and going back and signing up at all the vendors we frequent.. gonna do this later it he week..thanks Barb--I LOVE the birthday freebies too!! But your list shows how MANY other offers I may be passing up!

    1. It makes it soo much easier with the additional email....I am in control!

  4. We do the birthday freebies, too. (Though with 2 of us, it's a guaranteed money-maker for the restaurants. Should have married a man with the same birthday as me, LOL)
    Those sample-size personal care items are quite handy for packing the travel kit, too.
    Free plant from Home Depot? I clearly have to sign up for more freebies!

  5. What a great suggestion. So simple really and you have gotten some great stuff.

  6. The idea of a separate email is awesome! I enjoy many of your posts but don't always comment; that, however, is one of those "duh" ideas....thanks for sharing it.

    I grew up in Denver/Boulder & still have friends there; so hard to see all the damage, but I'm glad you are ok.



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